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Name: Cathy Status: student Grade: 9-12 Location: MD Country: USA Date: Winter 2011-2012

Question:
How can you measure the amount of soot coming from a candle? Is there some kind of mathematical equation that can be used to determine this?

Replies:
Cathy,

I am not aware of any mathematical equation that can predict the amount of soot formed. The problem is that soot is the result of an incomplete combustion of the candle. A complete combustion would produce CO2, H2O (and maybe a few other types of gases) and so there would not be any soot. Soot is mostly solid carbon (with a few other types of atoms mixed in) produced when these carbon do not react with the oxygen present. This means that the amount of soot would be dynamically controlled by the burning temperature, the amount of oxygen available at the reaction sites, the amount of heat being produced, etc. etc. ... very complex. It might be better simply to try to correlate the amount of soot (collected by scraping and weighing) to whatever variable you are interested in while trying to hold all other variables constant.

Greg (Roberto Gregorius) Canisius College


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